Perfume NotesEveryone has heard of musical notes. They are the individual sounds that make up the songs we love to listen to. Each song evokes a feeling and whenever we hear that song again, those feelings are recalled in an instant. The same is true of perfume notes. Each fragrance is made up of notes that give the perfume its personality. Scent is just as powerful as music and whenever you smell a familiar fragrance, you are instantly transported to another time.

There are three note levels that make up perfume. These are the top or head notes, the middle or heart notes and the base notes. All perfumes consist of these three levels to create a symphony of scent that makes a lasting impression on the wearer, and perhaps on anyone in the vicinity who happens to smell it. Of course, just as not everyone enjoys every song ever written, perfumes will appeal to different people based on their fragrance notes. However, each perfume note level has a specific purpose in the fragrance, meaning the scent you smell in the store may not be the only scent in the bottle.

Top or Head Perfume Notes

When talking about perfume notes, the first level is the top notes. This is because these notes are what you first smell when you open your bottle of perfume and apply it to your skin. These notes are what make perfumes instantly recognizable. Generally, they are light in nature and fade quickly; however, they are probably the most important of the three levels because if you don’t like the top notes, you won’t buy the perfume.

Perfume manufactures must succeed at creating scents that have alluring top notes so that they can sell their product. However, they must also ensure their top notes transition smoothly into the middle notes, which will last much longer than the top notes. Perfumers try to keep the top notes very light, which is why citrus, light fruits herbs are often the most popular fragrances for this level.

Middle or Heart Perfume Notes

After the top notes wear off, the middle notes arrive, bringing with them the fullness of the fragrance. The middle notes begin to emerge just as the perfume’s dispersion process begins. They are not as light as the top notes, but instead are typically mellow and well-rounded. Depending on how long the top notes last, the middle notes can appear as soon as two minutes after application to as long as an hour after application.

One purpose of the middle notes is to initially mask the scent of the base notes, since they do not often make a favorable first impression. They do become more pleasant with time, but only after the middle notes have started to fade. Common middle note fragrances include rose, lemongrass, geranium, ylang ylang, coriander, lavender, jasmine and neroli. They are also sometimes infused with spices such as cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Base Perfume Notes

The lowest perfume notes, known as base notes, appear before the middle notes have disappeared. This scent, in combination with the middle notes, is the true scent of the perfume. If you have ever been transported back in time when you’ve caught a whiff of a familiar perfume, it is likely you are responding to the base perfume notes because their job is to create a lasting impression. These notes will linger on the skin for many hours after the top notes are gone.

Base notes consist of heavier scents that take a long time to dissipate. You won’t smell them until about 30 minutes after you apply the perfume, but you may still be able to detect them as long as 24 hours after you initially put it on. Some of the common base note scents include sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, cedarwood, amber, musk and oakmoss.

You simply can’t have a successful perfume without including all three types of perfume notes. Such a scent just wouldn’t be attractive to very many people. However, when all perfume notes are mingled together, you get an amazing symphony of scents that you won’t soon forget.